Goldman attacks auditor rival Wood, but stirs her own issues

khui@newsobserver.comNovember 5, 2012 

— Debra Goldman attempted a last-minute reboot of her campaign for state auditor Monday by revisiting previously reported issues involving incumbent auditor Beth Wood, but the gambit also refocused attention on her own problems as a Wake County school board member.

Reporters were drawn to a news conference at Goldman’s lawyer’s downtown Raleigh office after Goldman offered to answer questions about a recently disclosed 2010 police report that detailed the theft of $130,000 in money and jewelry from her home. The report also contained accounts of a disputed relationship between Goldman and fellow school board member Chris Malone.

Goldman’s challenge of Wood has been caught up in a complex interaction of county and state politics, personal relationships and school policy. While answering questions about the report Monday, Goldman also advised the media to look at “some of the improprieties in our current state auditor’s own campaign and personal finances.”

“I’d like to ask you at this time to focus on those issues and stop focusing on hearsay and gossip and what I see as tabloid fodder,” Goldman said.

Wood, a Democrat, accused her Republican opponent of not giving the full details about the charges she was making. Wood said Goldman’s allegations show why she’s not qualified to become auditor.

As she did recently for The News & Observer, Goldman played a recording of an October 2010 meeting at her house with then-board Chairman Ron Margiotta and member John Tedesco. The recording, which Goldman made without the other members’ knowledge, took place shortly before a key board vote on Oct. 5, 2010. On that date, Goldman cast the deciding vote to sink the plan to switch the state’s largest school district to a zone-based assignment plan.

Goldman said she recorded the meeting at her home for “protection from accusations or allegations” that might be made by Margiotta and Tedesco. Margiotta has recently said he thinks Goldman’s problems with Malone may have contributed to the vote. Goldman said she voted no because she had concerns about the way the plan would affect her constituents in Cary and families in Southeast Raleigh.

“It shows you just how unstable she is that she would tape her conversations,” Margiotta said Monday.

Goldman also played a recording from a June 2010 meeting that her attorney, John Austin, said shows that Malone “is denying that there was a relationship.”

Efforts to reach Malone, a Republican candidate for state House, were unsuccessful Monday.

After playing the recordings, Goldman brought up accounts, previously reported by media, about Wood having reduced the number of investigations and charged that there has been “a great increase in wasteful spending” in the auditor’s office.

Goldman said the Wood campaign in 2008, when Wood won the office, had deposited checks not made out to it, including one made out to her opponent. Wood’s campaign was one of several audited by the state Board of Elections in 2009 and told to amend their reports.

“If she can’t even audit her own campaign finance report, how we can we trust her with our state dollars?” Goldman said.

Wood said Goldman didn’t explain that all the candidates who accepted public financing in 2008 were audited and the check she was questioning was from a person who mixed up $10 contributions given to both her and her Democratic primary opponent.

Goldman also charged that Wood had filed her taxes late in two of the four years she has been in office.

Wood said that Goldman isn’t telling the public the full details, such as how she paid her property taxes late because she was trying to repay her campaign debt off first.

“She’s having a press conference and only offering half the facts,” Wood said. “We don’t need an auditor who issues reports that only give half the facts.”

In the last gubernatorial debate, Republican nominee Pat McCrory avoided a direct endorsement of Goldman and took the unusual step of praising Wood, saying, “she’s done a good job.”

Staff writer Ron Gallagher contributed to this report.

Hui: 919-829-4534

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